Dissident Hungarian poet
Tuesday 16 January 2007
Gáspár Nagy, poet and editor: born Bérbaltavár, Hungary 4 May 1949; married 1974 Marta Szabo (one son, two daughters); died Budapest 4 January 2007.
When in 1985 a little-read provincial literary magazine in Hungary published a strange poem where the last three lines ended with the letters "N I" (in Hungarian "-ni" marks the infinitive of a verb) the Communist authorities immediately retaliated, dismissing the poem's young author from his post as Secretary to the Hungarian Writers Union. They realised that this was, indeed, a coded reference to Imre Nagy (in Hungarian "Nagy Imre"), Prime Minister of the Hungarian revolution of 1956, executed for "treason" in 1958.
This was the first time that many people took notice of Gáspár Nagy, a namesake, but no relation, of Imre Nagy. He was, however, not intimidated by the wrath of Communist officialdom and continued to publish, causing the withdrawal from circulation of the June 1986 issue of the Szeged literary magazine Tiszatáj, where in a poem he made a fairly open allusion to the "miserable compromises" on which János Kádár's "goulash Communism" was based. Once again, Nagy was lucky: he escaped arrest with his popularity enhanced.
Nagy was born in 1949 into a family of peasant farmers in south-western Hungary. He studied at the Teachers Training College of Szombathely from 1968 to 1971 and for a while worked as a librarian. After a stint with the Ferenc Móra Publishers of Budapest, in 1981 he became Secretary to the Hungarian Writers Union, a post he held until 1985.
For the following three years he was Secretary to the Gábor Bethlen Foundation and from 1988 edited the cultural review Hitel in Budapest. Hitel in the first few years of its existence was regarded as the mouthpiece of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, the party which won the majority of seats in the 1990 elections; on the editorial board the Catholic Gáspár Nagy acted as a moderating influence against the mostly Protestant populist radicals.
His poetry is the meeting-point of diverse influences: biblical tradition mingles in it with historical commentary and ironic observations on the state of the world and Hungary. While there are traces of Surrealism in his verse, more traditional Hungarian poets such as Attila József and László Nagy - as well as certain East European authors (Zbigniew Herbert, Danilo Kis) - also left an impact on his largely accessible, erudite poetry. Among his dozen collections of verse the most interesting was probably Múlik a jövonk ("Our Future is Passing", 1989) and Szabadrabok ("Free Captives", 1999). In 2006 he wrote a cycle of poems celebrating the memory of the 1956 revolution and its victims.
Gáspár Nagy won most recognition after the change of regime in Hungary. He was awarded, among others, the Attila József Prize in 1990, the Greve Prize (1992), the award of the Getz Corporation (1995) and the Kossuth Prize (2000). Last year he won the Hungarian Heritage Prize. His poems in English translations, mostly by Len Roberts, are in the second volume of the anthology In Quest of the "Miracle Stag" (2003), a representative collection of 20th-century Hungarian poetry.
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Ian Watkins: Police probed over earlier allegations as paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
DNA from a 50,000 year old toe shows Neanderthals were highly inbred
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
UK evangelist says Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£500 - £680 per day: Harrington Starr: Murex Business Analyst - 1000 CHF per d...
£35000 - £42000 per annum + excellent company benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group:...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Capita Education Resou...
£39000 - £425000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Newly Qualified ...